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Old 09-11-2014, 05:01 PM   #1
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I Bent My Frame

Well, there can be too much of a good thing. In my case it was torque. I have bent my Aframe. . I am just finishing up my season of Irish festivals using my used 2006 Bambi. Last year I used a 2008 1500 Suburban, weighed in total of 11,200#. This year I purchased a 2013 2500 suburban. The reese weight distribution hitch setup remained the same, although the ball was lowered to 18". Turns out my bars are too stiff, (800#)the height should be 17.25" , not the 18" I am set according to Jackson. Soooooo I bent frame. I just noticed it, my propane bottles are on a good angle and the front curves up like a "c".

GOOD NEWS, IT CAN BE FIXED AND THERE IS NO FRAME SEPARATION. I WILL ALSO GET A NEW HITCH SETUP. THE FUNNY THING IS..I NEVER SET THIS HITCH, I HAD AN RV PLACE SET IT, THEN HAD IT CHECKED BY AN AIRSTREAM TECH.

It has been a long day as I am on the road for work. I have a photo, but for the life of me cant seem to download from my ipad.
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Old 09-11-2014, 05:09 PM   #2
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1981 31' Excella II
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I would have to see a photo of where it is bent. Is the bend past the body? I think the frames are only 4 inches tall on those. If JC recommends those bars I would call them and tell them what happened. I have heard of trailers your size and age having rear frame problems as well. The A-Frame itself should be square tubing and it transitions to the 4 inch channel at some point. I expect the place where they meet is where it is bent.

Perry
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Old 09-11-2014, 05:17 PM   #3
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Yes that is where, the back is fine.
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Old 09-11-2014, 06:05 PM   #4
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I would say pull the belly skins there and take some photos. Call JC and see what they say. They might absorb some of the cost if you followed their recommendations as far as load bars and you got this damage. How much tongue weight do you really have. I would not think you would need much weight distribution with a 2500 burb.

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Old 09-11-2014, 06:21 PM   #5
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Just something to check..........

When you say that your propane bottles are on an angle, do you mean the actual bottles or the aluminium bottle cover?

If you have had the cover off to change a bottle, sometimes when you put it back in place, you may not get the front edge of it positioned just as it should be, and instead it sits up a little at the front because it is on top the flange of the tongue jack.

If that has happened, it will look as though the bottles are leaning backwards.

Took me a while to figure out that is what had happened on ours when we first got it!

Not saying you have the same problem, but it sure would be a pleasant surprise if it was!


Brian.
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Old 09-11-2014, 06:48 PM   #6
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Wow, I can't imagine a weight distribution bar could generate enough force to bend a 4" steel channel. (Why was I thinking they were all 5" channels now.) I can't wait for the photos! Look for some buckling or metal tears. Did Airstream start using 20ga steel for there frames?

Surely 3/4" ball height can't be a big factor. I crank up my 1400 pound bars to level out my 4 ton (weight) pick up and my Airstream frame doesn't seem to mind, and hasn't minded for 28 years.

It's about a three foot long steel bar. If I put my thumb under the Reese attach brackets and pulled up my bars, how hard would I yell. The 800 lbs twist is at the hitch, not at the attach brackets. The hitch is trying to jack up the back of the truck.
I would think that force down at the brackets onto the frame member would be considerably less than 800 lbs. (Or 1400 lbs in my case.) It would take a lot more force than that to bend a 4" channel.

I'm thinking there is something else going on here. Oh boy, let's have a "who done it."

David
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Old 09-11-2014, 07:17 PM   #7
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There is a huge load on the frame to level the tow vehicle. Especially when you have a small trailer trying to lift the rear end of a big truck. Now go over some woops and you are really putting a lot of stress on the frame. I think these Bambi's were made to be light more than strong. A 4" channel is not near as stiff as a 5" channel. The stiffness is something like the distance from the center to the edge of the beam cubed.

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Old 09-11-2014, 08:02 PM   #8
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Remember my truck is loaded. It makes sense to me that I did this( although personally did not set hitch) i had my propane cover off yesterday, it is on correctly. I wish I could send photo...email me with "bent" in subject line and I will send u photos. Begorragirl@earthlink.net
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Old 09-15-2014, 07:05 AM   #9
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I looked up yield strength of a 4" by 1 1/2" mild steel box channel 3/16 " thick and figured it would take about 2000 lbs to permanently bend the channel. I'm not convinced a grossly improperly set weight distribution bar can bend a A-frame member. The bars are levers, lifting the tow vehicle by the hitch (upstream of the ball joint). The levers deflect at their rated load. If I could lift the 3' long bar with a force of 250 lbs I would generate a 800 pound torque at the hitch lifting the tow vehicle.

It wouldn't surprise if it were a 5" box channel. My neighbors 2013 23' International has a 5" A-frame.

Bent frames due to weight distribution hitches would be a big problem for the RV industry.

Sbb: Any other causes of the bent frame discovered?

David
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Old 09-15-2014, 07:41 AM   #10
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3/16" thick wall, I doubt it. I would expect 1/8".

Perry
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Old 09-15-2014, 03:52 PM   #11
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You are probably right. My 66 is 3/16", and my 86 is also. A lot of manufacturers are using high strength steel anymore to reduce weight. But I don't have the facts to make an accurate assessment. It just seemed strange to me to hear of a bent A frame member due to a weight distribution hitch.

The Airstream frame is built light. The shell and sub floor help keep the frame straight. Rear end frame sag and reported incidences of frame cracks demonstrate the frame is light.

The cause isn't worth worrying about. I was just surprised to read about a bent A-frame member. I hope Sbb gets "straightened out".

David
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Old 09-15-2014, 04:20 PM   #12
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I would like to see photos to see where the bent is and then argue why.

Perry
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Old 09-16-2014, 02:05 PM   #13
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Hmm. This sure sounds like another case of underkill on the part of the AS design team. I know that most of us will want to blame the TV, but is that really where the blame should lie?

Does anyone have any documentation to support the claims that the phenomenon described as "overkill" on the TV side even exists? I can't find any. I think it is a fancy word that was made up to try to transfer the blame for shoddy design on the part of AS or it's distributors.

Is it just me or does AS need a wake up call? Who's with me?
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Old 09-16-2014, 06:16 PM   #14
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I have a 66 and a 86, both have lasted a long time and both are in good condition. After visiting Jackson Center and taking the tour, I think the new ones are even better. Of course there are design and manufacturing flaws, Sbb had some bad luck, and I was trying to figure out how it happened.

Airstreams aren't for everyone. They're different and special. But there isn't anything on them that can't be fixed.

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